Hospitals Drop Overhead Paging, Raise Satisfaction Scores

Inspira Medical Center Vineland, part of three-hospital Inspira Health Network, used to have around 150 overhead pages a day; now, it has about three.

Inspira Medical Center Vineland, part of three-hospital Inspira Health Network headquartered in Woodbury, N.J., used to have around 150 overhead pages a day; now, it has about three.

The other two hospitals, Inspira Medical Center Elmer and Inspira Medical Center Woodbury, also now are quiet hospitals with increased patient comfort, particularly at night. Nearly always, an overhead page is heard only because a physician forgot to bring his or her phone, says CIO Tom Pacek.

Clinicians and some staff member are using their own smartphones, loaded with secure mobile texting software from Practice Unite to communicate with each other. Futura Mobility, a reseller partner of Practice Unite, was the actual seller of the software and also provided implementation services.

Vineland was the pilot site in early summer of 2015 and by August all three hospitals were live on quiet secure texting. Pacek hasn’t forgotten how loud it really could get. He recalls trying to create a 10-minute video and it took several days because of constant overhead interruptions. Now, “it’s eerily quiet walking through the halls these days,” he says.

The Elmer medical center is a small facility and had the highest patient satisfaction rate for quietness before the communications system went in at 60 percent; now it approaches 100 percent. Woodbury went from a 45 percent satisfaction rate to 56 percent, and Vineland increased from 55 percent to 62 percent.

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Currently licensed for up to 1,800 users, overall costs for the communications system total about $200,000, Pacek says, which includes 3,000 licenses so the system can expand the base of users as needed across the delivery system. The price, he acknowledges, was on the lower end compared with other vendors considered, “but it’s a small company with smart people who can easily modify the system for us.”

The Practice Unite platform isn’t just for nurses to page a physician via secure text. Nurses can make a stat consult request to a physician via Inspira’s electronic health records system and the request is pulled from the EHR and sent to the physician’s phone—along with an audit trail to know if the consult was done. Critical lab results also can be sent to the EHR or phone, depending on physician preference. Further, patient rounding lists can be pulled up on residents’ phones.

Importantly, Inspira expects its quieter environments to raise overall patient satisfaction scores and the added features also should boost quality scores and cut the cost of care, Pacek believes. “I don’t have stats, but it certainly will impact length of stay. It does speed up the delivery of care, that’s for sure.”

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